Re: poly: Rapture of the Future

From: Tim May <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 10:01:56 PST

At 6:56 AM -0800 1/2/98, Perry E. Metzger wrote:
>Tim May writes:
>> There is nothing wrong with speculating about the distant future, or
>> contemplating the Oneness of the All, or buying Upload Insurance, I
>> suppose, but there is the very real danger that "nitrogen narcosis" of a
>> sort will take hold and make short-term, money-making, and world-changing
>> activities seem just too boring to be taken seriously.
>I think it is rather valuable to making money, actually, to see the
>direction things are going in long term. That crazy silly "internet"
>thing was something that myself and my buddies working with it for
>decades could see was going to go somewhere -- even in 1987 or '88 I
>was mumbling to friends about stuff that has not yet happened but
>which seems inevitable like the destruction of the current media
>distribution system and the companies associated with it and their
>replacement with something, er, better. There is often money to be
>made by being a firm that sees where the future is and tries to get
>there first -- see @Home, for example.

Well, when I said "distant future" I certainly didn't mean "10 years." Or
even "30 years." Or even "100 years." I mean the stuff so often talked
about here, the distant future of thousands or millions of years off.

>I agree, of course, that spending all one's time thinking about the
>omega point to the detriment of thinking about how to earn one's keep
>today is probably stupid. On the other hand, spending time thinking
>strategically rather than tactically about how to get from here to
>there is rather useful, and sometimes a moneymaker, especially given
>how fast things are now moving.

I agree, of course. And from the time I first logged-on to the ARPANET,
circa 1973, I expected it would eventually be a big deal. I acted on this
belief by buying stocks in companies which were connected to this,
including Sun.

But I tried to keep an investment horizon of about 5 years, for various
obvious reasons.

My "rapture" point is more about the psychological effects of moving one's
mental horizon so far into the obviously uncertain future that short-term
(breakfast, the next 5 years, one's job, etc.) seems things uninteresting
or unimportant.

The Keynsian slogan, "In the long run, we're all dead," has, for some, been
mutated into "In the long run, we'll all be immortal."

This kind of makes worrying about finding that CMOS latch-up bug in the
Digital Datawhack 9000 CPU chip a bit mundane.

Waiting for the Singularity is ever so much more fun....

--Tim May

The Feds have shown their hand: they want a ban on domestic cryptography
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
ComSec 3DES: 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^2,976,221 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."
Received on Fri Jan 2 17:52:45 1998

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